The Circus Gardener's Kitchen

seasonal vegetarian recipes with a side helping of food politics

pumpkin and cavolo nero risotto with pumpkin seed pesto

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This delicious seasonal recipe for pumpkin and cavolo nero risotto with pumpkin seed pesto is the latest in a monthly series of recipes I have created in partnership with Suma Wholefoods.

In these recipes, I use products from Suma’s extensive range of organic and ethically sourced products, and the recipes appear both here on my blog and on the Suma website.

To make this hearty dish I’ve used two wonderful vegetables from my garden – a Turk’s Turban squash and some cavalo nero, or black Tuscan kale – but you can substitute other squash and brassicas if you prefer.

The rich pumpkin seed pesto, made with toasted pumpkin seed oil, is added in at the end to give the dish a delicious boost of flavour.

pumpkin and cavolo nero risotto with pumpkin seed pesto


1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
600 g pumpkin peeled and chopped into 1-2cm cubes.
300 g cavolo nero
120 ml dry white wine
300 g arborio rice
15 ml extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1 litre vegetable stock

for the pumpkin seed pesto

20 g pumpkin seeds
15 g fresh basil, chopped
10 g fresh parsley, chopped
20 g vegetarian Parmesan cheese
30 ml extra virgin olive oil
20 ml toasted pumpkin seed oil


1. First make the pumpkin seed pesto. Place a dry frying pan or skillet over a medium heat, and tip the pumpkin seeds in. Shake the pan every so often to distribute the heat. After two or three minutes the seeds will begin to pop. Remove them from the heat and tip onto a cold plate. When cool enough to handle, place the pumpkin seeds, basil, parsley Parmesan, olive oil and toasted pumpkin seed oil in a pestle and mortar or food processor and work into a paste. Set to one side.

2. Remove the central stems from the kale and chop them finely. Shred the leaves. Pour the vegetable stock into a saucepan and place on a medium heat. Bring to a simmer then reduce the heat to its lowest setting.

3. For the risotto, pour the olive oil into a large pan over a medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the chopped onion and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the garlic, chopped kale stalks and chopped pumpkin. Cook, stirring, for a further two minutes before adding the rice. Stir to ensure all the grains of rice have contact with the oil. Now turn up the heat and pour in the wine, stirring to deglaze. Add the sea salt and a ladle of stock and then reduce the heat back to medium. After ten minutes, stir in the shredded kale leaves.

4. Keep stirring the risotto, adding a ladleful of stock whenever the rice starts to look dry. Continue to cook, adding stock a ladleful at a time in this way, until the rice is “al dente” and the pumpkin is tender. Remove from the heat. Tip the pumpkin seed pesto onto the risotto then use a wooden spoon to gently marble it through. The idea is to avoid fully mixing the two, instead leaving little seams of flavour running through the risotto. Serve immediately.

Categories: gluten free, vegetarian


4 replies

  1. Oh wow, looks divine.

  2. I just made this and its delicious. My husband reckoned it was the best thing he has eaten for weeks, so thanks very much for the recipe

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